San Miguel head coach Leo Austria downplayed the notion that his Beermen are the team to beat in the next PBA season, saying that the field has become tougher given the teams’ efforts to improve their rosters over the past months.
“Hindi natin masisiguro dahil lahat ng team eh trying to be a contender,” he told Radyo5’s Power and Play.
“Alam ko very confident ‘yung bawat team dahil nadagdagan sila ng missing piece dun sa team nila.”
San Miguel per se made a move to inject more youth to its veteran crew by trading for CJ Perez back in January, and that somehow kick-started a flurry of major shake-ups among the other teams in the following months.
Meralco, the team that ended the Beermen’s Philippine Cup dynasty by beating them in the quarters last year, bolstered its frontcourt last February by acquiring Mac Belo via trade with Blackwater–letting go of Baser Amer in the process.
It was then the Bolts’ sister team TNT that made a major move just days after, appointing the multi-decorated Chot Reyes as its head coach to replace the tandem of Bong Ravena and active consultant Mark Dickel.
His comeback had inspired Kelly Williams to come out of retirement and return to the Tropang Giga. And under him, the team initiated a three-team trade to get NLEX’s no. 3 pick in the 2021 Draft, which it used to nab Mikey Williams.
SMB’s sister teams also had a busy offseason. Magnolia entered a deal with Phoenix Super LPG in February as well, trading Chris Banchero for star forward Calvin Abueva in a deal that also involved pick swaps.
And then, of course, there’s Barangay Ginebra, who got former BPC — and ex-Beerman — Christian Standhardinger from a straight-up swap with NorthPort, making the Gin Kings a favorite to repeat as Philippine Cup titlists.
“Alam naman natin napakalakas ng mga team ngayon, and very exciting ito dahil umikot ang maraming players and then nadagdagan ng magagaling na talent galing dito sa draft,” Austria said.
“I think ang magiging advantage lang namin siguro, matagal na magkakasama ito.
“They know how to win, they know how to lose. And regarding the experience and the championship, meron kami nun eh,” he said.
But then again, there’s no room for complacency whatsoever if the Beermen really want to compete the best they can, Austria said.
“But alam mo naman, lahat ‘yan pinagaaralan na ng kalaban eh kaya you don’t have to be complacent. And you have to work hard para maging competitive ka,” said the coach who has steered SMB to eight titles since 2014.
“And it’s a good thing dahil para sa akin, it’s a challenge for everybody dahil alam nila walang team dito na pwedeng biruin mo eh you cannot take them for granted eh,” Austria furthered.
“Makikita mo sa mga interview nila, they (teams) are very confident. Kaya sabi ko, it’s about time to work hard again.”